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Pharoah Sanders Has Died
Patrick Clarke , September 24th, 2022 13:14

The longstanding jazz musician was 81

The legendary jazz musician Pharoah Sanders has died, aged 81.

The label Luaka Bop, who released his acclaimed 2021 collaboration with Floating Points and The London Symphony Orchestra, Promises, confirmed the news on Twitter. A statement shared by the label said: "We are devastated to share that Pharoah Sanders has passed away. He died peacefully surrounded by loving family and friends in Los Angeles earlier this morning. Always and forever the most beautiful human being, may he rest in peace."

Born Farrell Sanders in Little Rock, Arkansas, his first musical performances were as a child, accompanying church hymns on clarinet. After a two-year period in Oakland, California from 1959, he relocated to New York to play with rhythm and blues bands. It has been claimed that around this period, Sun Ra encouraged him to take the name Pharoah.

In 1965, Sanders joined John Coltrane's band, at the same time starting to release his own regular free jazz recordings. These came out primarily through the Impulse! label until the 1980s, with his debut artist album, Pharoah's First, arriving in 1965.

An album with Sun Ra, Featuring Pharoah Sanders and Black Harold, was also recorded in 1964, though didn't see the light of day until 12 years later. From the mid-'60s through to the early '80s, other collaborators of Sanders' included Don Cherry, Alice Coltrane and Kenny Garrett.

Sanders was awarded an NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for 2016 and honoured at a tribute concert in Washington DC. In 2021, his final album, the aforementioned Promises, was nominated for the Mercury Prize.